Pedalling new pathways through a seat on the district council

Leeston’s Shane Epiha has secured himself a seat representing the Ellesmere Ward at the district council table. The new councillor talked to Devon Bolger about his life and interest in politics

Tell me about your family.

I live in Leeston with my wife Anna and our two children. Amiria who is about two and a half and Hana who is six-and-a-half-months old. My youngest from my first marriage, Lilly, who is 13 also lives with us. I do have two older girls who live in Whangarei, Alisa, 17, and Jade, 15. Lilly, actually moved in with us recently and started at Ellesmere College on Monday

How long have you lived in Selwyn for?

I have lived here for about two-and-a-half-years now.

Where were you living before then?

I was living in Perth, Australia. I was working in mining and development. I then started my own business in commercial tyres and ran that for five years. That’s where Anna and I met. She is originally from Leeston so we had our youngest Amiria and then decided to move back there to raise our family I did some local contracting work and then went on to become a business development manager for a company in Christchurch, SuperTyre, where I still work today.

What do you like about living in Selwyn?

Well, I didn’t at first. It was cold getting off that plane from Perth. I did end up going to work for a local contractor here in Leeston. I learned some skills on the digger and quickly got to meet a lot of the locals. I actually worked across the whole district in the year I worked there and got to meet a lot of the people and fell in love with the land and how hard people work here.

Why did you decide to enter politics?

It was really the opportunity to further develop initiatives that I’m currently doing. It was my wife Anna who kind of said to me: ‘You would be good at this Shane because you’re already working with youth, you’re already developing pathways for them.’ What I found valuable about volunteering my time is that I got a hell of a lot out of it too. I am hoping that the skills I got from that and also the good feelings I got from that will carry through to the council. Getting on to a platform where I can help more people is really the reason why I put my hand up to be a councillor. I have also been on the executive committee in region four for the Road Transport Association NZ. I have been involved in transport over the last six years so I am actively promoting road safety and education for all road users. It is something I am hoping to continue with at the council.

What are some of the initiatives?

I am currently in discussions with Ellesmere College about helping to fill the network and forming pathways for the students in their gateway programme. I’m in discussions at the moment about bringing them through into my network in the transport industry. The plan there is you get them in for some work experience and give them a taste of the industry. It’s so important at a young age to do that so they can see if they actually do like it and whether it could be a potential career for them. That’s my intention anyway. I give motivational talks at the Ministry of Social Development to job seekers in Ashburton, Hornby and Shirley. I also talk to young people on the LSV courses they have at Burnham Military Camp and attend the expo they put on there.

Outside of work and politics, what are your interests?

Family is the main thing at the moment. Cycling was a big passion of mine when I came to Canterbury to live. I loved it. It’s just a great team sport, it’s not dependant on anyone’s size or shape. I even started a youth cycling team here in Leeston a few years ago. So yes it was cycling but now the number one is family because I have less time now and any spare time I do have will be mostly spent with them.

Can you tell me more about the cycling team?

I started the team when I first moved here, it was a junior team. There were about 12 or 13 kids involved and we got some help from the local club who gave us a van. We borrowed grandad’s trailer and every weekend we would throw the bikes on the trailer, put the kids in the van and go bike ride around the district. I did that for about a year and really enjoyed it. There are a lot of themes within a cycling team that directly relate to life. That’s what I teach the young people, that a 16km lap around Leeston is essentially like a 16km map of life. They struggle at the start and they’re a bit uncomfortable but then their confidence builds and when they finish they get this feeling of jubilation because of what they have accomplished.

What are you looking forward to most about getting started on the council?

I don’t want to just give a generic answer but it is about helping the community first and foremost so I would say I am looking forward to the opportunity for professional development to be able to further help my community. I am also looking forward to continuing the initiatives I have begun already.

What do you want to achieve?

I have three main focuses – jobs for our kids, road safety and community well-being. Those are the three things that I am currently working on and I feel they flow directly into my new position as a councillor and it gives me a better platform to help more people. I care about community development and the welfare of those living within it and I intend to be a voice for the people.







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